Are Medical Writing, Technical Writing, and Medical Transcription the same thing?
No. Although the topics treated may overlap, these are different activities that require diverse skills and education levels. It may be possible to transition from one career to the other, but not without engaging in some level of training or updating one's educational experience.
Medical Communicators write, edit, or develop materials about medicine and health. They do this by gathering, organizing, interpreting, and presenting information in a manner appropriate for the target audience. Materials prepared by medical communicators, collaborating with others or working independently, include the following:
- Patient education brochures, news articles, Web content, and books for the general public
- Journal articles and continuing education monographs for health care professionals
- Regulatory documents for government agencies
- Grant proposals for research scientists and institutions
- Sales training and marketing materials for the pharmaceutical industry
According to the Society for Technical Communication (STC), Technical Writers communicate about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations. They communicate by using technology, such as Web pages, help files, or social media sites. And they provide instructions for products and services.
According to the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI), Medical Transcriptionists also known as a healthcare documentation specialists, or medical documentation editors, listen to a voice recording made by a doctor or other healthcare professional and either transcribe the information into a captured electronic record, or review and edit a version produced by a speech recognition technology software program for the record.
What kind of education do I need to become a medical writer?
A bachelor’s degree is preferred by most employers, although not always required. The majority of AMWA members have a bachelor's or higher in a medical or scientific field. A degree in the English/writing fields may also be helpful for breaking into the medical communications profession. The AMWA education program is designed to offer professional development specific to the needs of medical writers. AMWA certificates are available in a variety of areas, but the Essential Skills program is designed to support the core skills needed to succeed in the field. More information on AMWA's education program is available here.
If you would like more information on the medical writing field you can look at AMWA’s Toolkit for New Medical Writers.
Will AMWA help me publish my book/article/dissertation?
AMWA is not affiliated with nor will it recommend any publishers.
AMWA does offer the opportunity to have relevant work published through our quarterly Journal. You can find Instructions for contributors here.
Can I get health insurance/liability insurance through AMWA?
No, AMWA does not provide health insurance/liability insurance.
Does AMWA hire medical writers?
No, AMWA does not hire medical writers. AMWA is an association of medical communication professionals. The work of the organization is completed by a paid staff of association professionals and a dedicated group of volunteer members.
AMWA does provide resources to support your job search in many ways. In particular, AMWA offers an online Freelance Directory where you can post your resume for potential employers to find and hire you for contract and project work. Jobs Online on the AMWA website, offers job postings by employers who are hiring medical writers.
What is a typical salary for medical writers?
Salary information depends on a number of factors including your level of education, job responsibilities, the primary field of work, and geographic location. The average annual salary ranges between $69,000-$110,000. Download the 2015 Salary Survey article for more information.
Previous Salary Surveys (2011 and 2007) are available in the AMWA Journal Issues Online page.
How can I hire a medical writer?
You may post a job in AMWA's Jobs Online available to AMWA's over 5,000 members. If you are looking for a contract or freelance medical writer, we recommend using AMWA's Freelance Directory to search for a medical writer that meets your specific project needs.
Can I use the AMWA logo on my website?
The AMWA logo represents the association and all use of the logo must be approved expressly by AMWA. Members have the right, and are encouraged, to state their affiliation with AMWA. However, the AMWA name or logo may not be used in any manner that implies endorsement by AMWA or implies that the member is an official spokesperson for the organization.
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What kinds of memberships are available?
AMWA offers professional and student memberships. To qualify for a student membership you must have documented proof that you are currently enrolled as a student at an educational institute. For more information on the types of membership AMWA’s offers, please click here.
Do I qualify for a discounted membership?
If you are a student, currently enrolled in an accredited post secondary institution or program then you qualify for a discounted student membership. For more information on student memberships please click here.
How do I provide proof of enrollment for a student membership? Do I need to provide proof every year?
A current class schedule, unofficial transcript, or a letter from your registrar is considered proof of enrollment. Fellows and residents must provide a letter from their mentor/advisor, or a copy of their offer letter.
Yes, you do need to provide proof every year you are a student and would like to receive the AMWA student membership discount. For more information on our student membership please click here.
Where can I renew my membership?
During your renewal window, you can login here and click on membership renewal in the Quick Links Menu on the left hand side. AMWA will also accept renewal payments by check or credit card via USPS or fax (please submit with renewal invoice); or you can simply call our office to pay over the phone.
Can I get a refund for my membership dues?
AMWA membership is non-transferable and non-refundable. For more information on AMWA refund and cancellation policy, please click here.
I forgot my login information. What do I do?
If you have forgotten or lost your AMWA login information please click our Forgot Password Link.
How do I contact my chapter?
AMWA has a list of all chapters on our website with links to individual chapter websites. The chapter leadership list on the AMWA website provides the emails of Chapter Leadership.
Where can I purchase self-study workbooks?
Self-study workbooks can be purchased at AMWA's Online Store.
How can AMWA help me find employment?
AMWA provides many resources to help you in your job search. If you are looking for freelance work, we recommend that you create a listing in the Freelance Directory here.
You can also search AMWA’s Jobs Online to look for new job postings by employers looking to hire those in the medical writing field. You can search Jobs Online here.
How do I sign up for the freelance directory?
You can create or manage your freelance listing here.
Where can I find a list of AMWA’s affiliation discounts for members?
AMWA lists our affiliation discounts for members on our website here.
What resources are available with membership?
AMWA offers a wealth of resources to benefit members. AMWA's membership benefits include access to the medical writing community for networking and relationship building; career services and professional development, and discounted access to our premiere education program and many other resources for professional medical communicators. To learn more about AMWA’s member resources click here.
How do I volunteer with AMWA?
AMWA volunteers have been called the "lifeblood" of the organization. As an AMWA volunteer, you can take pride in participating in activities that interest you while expanding your knowledge of medical writing, gaining valuable management and leadership skills, and connecting with others in your profession. We welcome members with all levels of expertise, professionals from all general and specialty areas, and all simply interested in helping support AMWA's ongoing development and growth.
AMWA has an annual “Call for Volunteers,” typically in the late Summer/early Fall each year, to support committee development. Information on this process may be found on our Get Involved page.
How do I use Engage, AMWA's Online Community?
Please review Getting Started in Engage for step by step instructions on how to login to Engage, update your profile, set up your account settings, build your network, and post a message to the community.
What is the difference between a certificate and certification?
A certificate is a document attesting to an individual’s participation in an educational program typically designed to help him or her fulfill specific learning objectives. Certification is a credential granted to an individual after that individual has met established criteria for competency, usually through a process that involves an examination. AMWA recently launched a separate certification program for medical writers.
What continuing professional education does AMWA offer?
AMWA’s education program includes certificates, workshops, the Medical Writing & Communication Conference, chapter conferences, corporate onsite training, self-study workbooks, pocket trainings and online offerings. Explore all of these opportunities.
What certificates does AMWA offer?
AMWA currently offers 3 certificates: Essential Skills, Composition and Publication, and Regulatory and Research. Learn more about the Certificates.
Are certificates required by employers or AMWA?
It depends on the employer. Most do not require certificates; however, it is highly respected in the medical writing community. It shows that you value continuing professional education, and that you are committed to excellence in your work.
How much does it cost to earn a certificate?
The cost varies because you have so many choices about how to earn a certificate. You may earn the Essential Skills certificate by self-study or workshops at AMWA's Medical Writing & Communication Conference or a chapter conference. For the other certificates, you can earn workshop credits at AMWA's Medical Writing & Communication Conference or a chapter conference. Registration fees vary greatly. View the AMWA Certificate Program Guide here.
Do I have to take workshops in any particular order?
Workshops or self-study modules may be completed in any order; however, to have the most successful learning experience, it is strongly recommended that you complete Basic Grammar I and Basic Grammar II workshops or the Basic Grammar & Usage self-study module before any of the other Essential Skills workshops or Self-Study Workbooks.
Where can I find my Curriculum History?
You may review your workshop curriculum history by logging in to AMWA.org and clicking on “My Curriculum History” in the quick links under Account Management.
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Do you offer a certification program?
AMWA is proud to offer its Medical Writer Certified (MWC) credential, a joint effort with the Medical Writing Certification Commission (MWCC), to medical writers seeking to distinguish themselves in the field.
What is the difference between a certificate and certification?
Certificates are awarded after participation in a specific focused educational offering (ie, continuing education course or workshop) to indicate completion of the offering and demonstration of knowledge of the content. The content of the course or workshop is determined by the specific provider or institution. Certificates are awarded by educational programs or institutions. Certificate programs are a good way to build your skills and usually do not require examination or follow-up training.
Certification differs from a certificate program. Certification results from an assessment process that recognizes an individual's knowledge, skills, and competency in a particular specialty. Certification usually requires some amount of professional experience and indicates mastery or competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by examination or application. The standards for certification are established through a defensible industry wide process (such as the job analysis done by AMWA in 2012) that results in an outline of required knowledge and skills. Certification typically is recognized with a designation to use after one’s name. Individuals may demonstrate continued competency by meeting ongoing requirements to maintain certification.
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I have an idea for a presentation at conference. Where do I send it?
AMWA has a “Call for Proposals” every year before the Medical Writing & Communcation Conference. You can find the rules and form on our website. Any companies interested in securing an exhibit booth or becoming a conference sponsor can visit our opportunities page here.